Drivers of diesel cars say they are unlikely to switch their vehicles even if, as rumoured, this weekâ€™s Budget includes tax rises on buying or running them.
According to aides, Chancellor Philip Hammond is likely to announce tax increases that will punish diesel drivers. This is seen partly as a move to fund the Governmentâ€™s Clean Air Strategy and partly an effort to push drivers into alternatively fuelled vehicles.
However, a poll of drivers by the RAC has found that the vast majority of diesel owners say any change is unlikely to affect how much they use their car and could, in fact, encourage them to hold onto it longer.
One of the options though to be being considered by Mr Hammond is increasing fuel duty on diesel from its current 57.95p per litre. According to the RAC survey, more than half of all drivers (55 per cent) think this is a bad idea and, predictably, diesel drivers are even more opposed (84 per cent).
More than three-quarters of diesel owners (80 per cent) said that a change in fuel duty, which would force up the price of the fuel at the pumps, would not make them use their car any less. Almost as many (70 per cent) said it also wouldnâ€™t make them any more likely to switch to a hybrid or electric car and 11 per cent said they would be even less likely to sell their diesel vehicle.
Other options thought to be under consideration by the Treasury include raising taxes on new diesel vehicles or even imposing a tax on buyers of second-hand diesels in certain circumstances. They saw even less support among drivers, with only 13 per cent backing higher taxes on new cars and a mere six per cent backing a new charge on used cars.
RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: â€œPutting up duty on diesel is not going to stop the countryâ€™s 12 million diesel motorists driving any less and ease the air quality problem associated with nitrogen dioxide emissions from the fuel.
While the Government may think it will further deter people from choosing a diesel as their next vehicle, in the meantime it would unfairly punish existing diesel owners for responding to incentives introduced by a previous Government designed to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel owners will also be concerned that the value of their vehicles will be negatively affected.
â€œWhatâ€™s more, private cars are far from being the only cause of our air quality problems and tend to do far lower mileage.â€